Best Soccer Formations

As with most other sports games, soccer is primarily a team sport, where everyone needs to be able to pull their weight to come out the other side with victory in the bag.

And that teamwork is usually best seen in the use of formations across the pitch.

Best Soccer Formations

Having and keeping a good level of coordination with your teammates, and placing yourselves accordingly, is not just how to score yourself those goals, but is also the bread and butter of building a great team dynamic where everyone trusts that everyone else knows what they are doing.

But what are the best formations exactly? Not every arrangement of players yields the best results, especially when looking at the types of skills your team might utilize.

If you’re looking to come up with an effective strategy on the pitch, you can’t just rely on any old formation to carry your team, especially when several of your player’s skills and attributes would be better used differently.

This is why we have put together this guide for you, to show you the best formations in soccer that you can utilize (see also ‘Best 7 V 7 Soccer Formation‘).

While there is no single arrangement that can guarantee your team victory, with the correct application, these formations will certainly help a team reach it that much easier!


Starting with a formation that is considered one of the most overall effective in the sport, the 4-1-4-1 is a formation that prioritizes a strong defense over attacking the opposing team.

By having many of the players pushed further down the field closer to your goal, with both wings of your team being further back and playing defensively.

Of course, there is a downside to this strategy, and that comes at the cost of a strong attacking group from within the team, with only one midfielder being positioned in a way that allows them to move further up the field.

Add to that the fact that the two midfielders that are located more in the center of the field can often be less effective, and you have a situation where there are at least two players whose options for both defense AND attack are limited.

However, as we have already stated, that is not the main goal of this formation in the first place.

Defense is the main aim of this particular game, and the staggering nature of this formation means that, when executed right, the opposing team will struggle to gain any ground on your side.

Plus, with the team pushing up when successfully used, there are still a few options open for attack. At least, when used correctly.

There’s a reason that this formation is considered effective, after all!


Moving from a formation where defense is the main aim, the 4-3-3 is a formation that makes use of a team that has plenty of players that are effective at playing at high speeds.

Made famous by Italy’s national soccer team, the 4-3-3 prioritizes the midfielders being flexible in how they operate on the field.

What makes this a viable formation for many teams is the flexibility that it can offer to a team, should the situation on the pitch change from one where an attack is the best strategy, to where defenses need to be taken.

When the situation calls for it, the 4-3-3 can turn from an effective midfield attacking position, to a 4-5-1 defensive position, making for a very effective counter to an attack from an opposing team.

This versatility means that you can have up to 7 attackers at any one time, to a powerful defense. It is no wonder why so many national teams use it!

However, there is a catch: This flexibility does require players to not just be fast on the pitch, but also to react to a changing situation too.

Plus, such a strong attack formation can quickly go south, when a pass is missed, or one attacker falls behind their teammates.



If we want to discuss popular formations that are used in soccer, we need to at least give a shout-out to the 4-2-3-1 arrangement.

This formation can be broken up into 4 separate parts: 4 players in defense, 2 midfielders that are holding or playing defense, 3 midfielders that are either playing creatively or are on the attack, and a lone striker up at the front of the team.

The 4 defenders allow for the entire width of the pitch to be covered by your team, both when your side does not have the ball, and when they are.

The two defensive midfielders help to cover any gaps in the placement of defense that might arise, as well as to potentially push up when the situation arises.

The latter 2 positions are where we see why this strategy is so popular.

The midfielders are free to use their skills as needed, whilst not having to worry about defense, leaving them free to intercept the opposing team if they have possession of the ball, or to support the striker as necessary.

With a balanced positioning like this, it is not hard to see why it is so popular with so many managers today.

It both effectively covers almost all defensive possibilities, and also leaves enough creative potential for striking and attacking as well.


This particular soccer (see also: How To Get Better At Soccer)formation places a high priority on midfielders being front and center of the arrangement, with the team taking an almost ‘Christmas tree’ formation appearance when looked at from above.

This formation leaves plenty of opportunities for attacking and striking, with the midfield being quite high up the field, and supporting the striker when necessary.

Plus, it also allows for other midfielders to play further down the field and support defense.

If this strategy sounds familiar, it is because it is a very similar style to the 4-2-3-1 formation that we just talked about, which generally approaches the same issue, only more effectively.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, often the best strategies will either be adaptable to different situations or prioritize a good strong defense or attack.

Adrian Turner
Latest posts by Adrian Turner (see all)